Excerpt from Seed Falling on Good Soil, by Gordon W. King
Stories as Agents of Change
My sleep is often interrupted in the night due to my illness. Sometimes I listen to a radio, using an earphone in order not to bother Regine. One such night, I was riveted by a BBC interview with Dr. Mukesh Kapila, who described an afternoon in March 2004 when he sat behind a desk in Khartoum writing a report for his superiors at the United Nations in New York. Kapila was the UN’s senior representative in Sudan. He held little hope that the lines he was writing about Darfur would have any greater impact than his previous reports.
A tall woman in torn, dirty clothes unexpectedly appeared outside his office, having somehow made it past the security guards and administrative staff. She introduced herself as Aisha and chose to sit on the floor rather than to use a chair. She explained that she had come from Darfur to Khartoum in order to tell him her story. Aisha had been with her family in her town’s market when Arab militia attacked on horseback and in vehicles. They rounded up the women and girls and raped them systematically “like a production line in a factory.” She passed out after being abused by several men. When Aisha gained consciousness, houses were burning and the men of the town had disappeared (and never returned). Somehow she journeyed 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) to Khartoum to meet with Mukesh Kapila.
Kapila had received third-party reports about Darfur over the past months. Now he was confronted with the personal story of a survivor. His subsequent actions would cost him his UN career and lead to years of death threats. He booked a flight to Nairobi and called a press conference without the permission of his superiors. He exposed the violence sponsored by the Government of Sudan and the inaction of the UN to protect vulnerable
populations in Darfur. He had been ambushed by Aisha’s story and felt compelled to make a series of dangerous personal commitments. Continue reading